April 17, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Ask the Expert: How can we help the anxious Dental Patient?

In the course of my 30-plus years as a dentist I have met with hundreds of anxious dental patients who have been reluctant to come to the office for treatment. Almost without exception these patients will relate to me terrible childhood experiences of their family dentist who refused to provide anesthesia, or ignored their pleas that the drill was hurting them. Fortunately in these times dentists are much more understanding and compassionate, but for those who were traumatized it is difficult to overcome those fears from childhood.

So what tools do we have today to help the anxious patient? The first thing is for the dentist to understand that these patients want to have good dental health and for the dentist to avoid making these patients feel judged about their neglected teeth. I am a firm believer that if the patient has made the brave choice to come to the office, they deserve to be respected. No judgement, no criticism, just a plan to help them get back on track.

Secondly, the dental office should offer patients the opportunity to have Nitrous Oxide, or “laughing gas” provide for their treatments. Also, a prescription of a light sedative such as Valium can be beneficial as well. At our office Nitrous Oxide is offered without charge for restorative procedures such as fillings, crowns, root canals, etc.

And finally, just good old fashioned caring and compassion always goes a long way.

dental patient

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Alan Rubenstein is a Santa Monica-based dentist. More information can be found at alanrubensteindds.com.

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